Title: Fueling the Flames
Author: Jordanna Morgan
Archive Rights: Please request the author's consent.
Characters: Rin and Yukio.
Setting: Post-anime, and subsequent to the events in my story "Crutch".
Summary: As Yukio learns to control his powers, Rin is all too delighted to help.
Disclaimer: They belong to Kazue Kato. I'm just playing with them.
Notes: Another post-anime ficlet in which I explore Yukio's adjustment to having demonic powers. I'm not sure where this actually came from, but I'm assigning it to the prompt "Siblings" on one of my older Genprompt Bingo cards.
More importantly, this fic features a second appearance of the flame-sealing pocketwatch I've given Yukio as a counterpart to Rin's Kurikara sword. (For the backstory on that, read my one-shot "Crutch".) This time, the watch receives a name which means "to advance or proceed"—hence the comment from Rin about what the name should mean to Yukio.
"I think that will be all for today," said Shura Kirigakure, scowling down at a row of liquefied wax puddles that were once candles. "Try to have your head in the game when you show up tomorrow, Four-Eyes."
Still wreathed in the now-cool blue flames that had wrought the destruction, Yukio Okumura hung his head and sighed. "Yes Ma'am."
A week had passed since Yukio began joining his brother in their special "lessons" from Shura: lessons designed to help the half-demon twins control their flames. Having been at this for much longer, Rin was more skilled than his younger sibling, but Yukio—still only a month removed from the emergence of his powers—had found himself struggling.
Even more discouraging, he knew in his heart that his lack of progress was just as much due to attitude as inexperience. Rin was self-confident and brash, owning his powers with a fearless and almost reckless determination, as if his flames were some feral creature to be tamed until they bent to their master's will. It was an approach that seemed to work for him; but at least so far, Yukio had failed to muster up that kind of courage in his own attempts. Less self-assured by nature, he simply couldn't push away his fears of losing control, of doing accidental harm. If Rin's flames were like a stray pet that needed redomesticating, Yukio felt his were more like a wild animal, a beast he could never trust not to revert to its innate savagery.
As Shura's footsteps moved away down the long, empty—and well fireproofed—room where the boys trained, Yukio slid his hand beneath the lapel of his jacket. In a hidden inner pocket, his fingers found the open antique pocketwatch in which Sir Pheles had sealed his flames. It was a regulator for Yukio's powers, just as Rin's sword and sheath were for him. He pinched the silver casing shut with a soft click, and the tendrils of blue fire instantly flickered out around him.
Rin had begun to call the watch Susumu, saying that it deserved a name as much as his Kurikara did, and that it would be a reminder to Yukio to keep persevering. Yukio had not been impressed… but as the days passed, and Rin stubbornly went on referring to the watch by that name, he inevitably found it beginning to stick in his mind as well. So Susumu it was.
"…Well, it's better than yesterday," Rin's voice remarked behind Yukio, and he turned to see his twin thoughtfully regarding the hardening pools of wax on the floor.
"No… it's not," Yukio sighed. "But thanks for saying it."
The elder brother grinned, in a sympathetic way that made Yukio feel a twinge of annoyed embarrassment. "Hey, come on. You know this was tough for me too—but you'll get there. You've just gotta relax, and stop trying so hard."
…Which was really exactly the problem, Yukio granted to himself. He had never known how not to try hard at everything he did.
Without reply, the young exorcist opened his shirt and began to wrap his tail around his ribs, to conceal the long furry appendage for the walk home to their dorm. At least he was getting a bit more used to that feature of his demonic heritage. It still distracted him sometimes when it was unbound, but it did have its uses. Yukio was not a demonstrative person, but his tail twitched, lashed, and wagged in response to every subtle shift of his emotions, and he was finding that this unconscious outlet of expression actually felt… rather nice. Cathartic, in a way.
Just as he was rebuttoning his shirt over his now-hidden tail, his stomach gave up a sudden loud rumble—and he reddened.
Rin laughed good-naturedly. "Whoops! Well, I guess you would need some food. You really did put out a lot of effort today—and flames need plenty of fuel, you know. Ever since I changed, it seems like I get twice as hungry."
Behind his eyeglasses, Yukio raised an eyebrow. "You've always eaten so much that I never really noticed… but I guess you're right. Now that I think about it, I do seem to have a bigger appetite after practicing with my flames like this."
"Hey, no problem. When we get home, I'll make negimaki…"
"That would be great!"
"…And in return, you'll just have to let me be the first to read that new manga you brought home yesterday."
Yukio choked at the proposition. "What? No! You always mess up the pages—and when you read anything first, you can never stop yourself from letting out spoilers!"
"Okay. Well, I guess you'll just have to find your own dinner then," Rin retorted blithely, as he turned to walk away.
The younger brother's shoulders slumped, and he trailed after Rin with a groan.
"That is so not fair."
2016 Jordanna Morgan